What hasn’t already been said about Paris?

So all you hear about Paris is true. It just doesn’t give a shit about you if you’re not French. There’s no English on any of the signs, and I got to Charles De Gaulle airport and I wandered around for ages trying to get my bags and find the train. Finally, I figured how to buy a ticket and changed trains at Gare Du Nord station and fuck! I’ve wandered into Paris on a Saturday night.

I was flooded by a sea of people rushing at me. There were young soldiers holding really big guns just walking around. And I didn’t have the first idea which way to even pretend to head to find my connecting train.

Somehow I made it to my station, with my bags, and Paris must hate the disabled because everything is stairs. After a million flights I got out of the station and looked back at it and realised it’s the one from the movie Amelie, after she’s helped the blind man and she runs up some stairs.

Ben and Judie at Lamark
l-r: Ben & Judie at Lamarck Caulaincourt station

So began Paris. The first night my dormmate and I, Ben, wandered around the beautiful Monmartre area, just north of the city. We headed up to Sacré Coeur, this massive, gorgeous church on top of the hill, looking down over the entire Paris city. To my left the Eiffel Tower. To every other direction, just a big sexy looking city. People congregate here for the view at night. Tourists, locals, couples, homeys, everyone – they just sit here on the Church steps and openly drink and smoke. Much better than the Townie.

The hostel was a bit of a blow out that night as the public area was filled with some jerks. So Ben and I just drank by ourselves, talked crap and briefly talked to some people but there was no room for people to sit down.

Me in Paris
Me, wandering

Day 2 in Paris started right in it’s heart. I walked and walked and walked. From every major monument to the next, not necessarily in the right order. Criss-crossing bridges at random, desperately trying to find food at one point. I walked around things, under things, over things and just as I made my way up some turning staircase – BAM! There’s the fucking Louvre right in front of me.

Stopped at Virgin Megastore for a rest and the heat and found albums by Youth Group, You Am I, Sleepy Jackson and even the Finn brothers tribute. There were so many special editions of things I’ve never seen before and somehow I found the inner strength to not buy anything.

Spent the afternoon in the Latin Quarter, which was already mostly closed on a Sunday afternoon. Walked around some more and headed back to the Hostel to meet Ben and Judie. We had plans for dinner and others at the hostel had plans for cruise down the Seine. Somehow, whilst wasting time organising, we picked up a few randoms and we all had dinner and went on a cruise together.

It was fantastic. 14 solo travellers from different countries and from all walks of life. We might not all be looking for the same thing, but we were all looking in the same place. And everyone was so open to everyone, and we all managed to get through the Metro and onto the boat and unfortunately be loud drunken English speaking tourists, yelling out bonsoir to people on bridges. For me, it was what I was looking for; meeting new people and seeing the world through those people.

Judie on the Seine
Judie, out of focus, on the Seine. Her smile is so big I had to post it anyway

The night ended again at Sacré Coeur, drinking and talking to new friends til I was too tired to do anything.

Tried to make the most of the next day by spending most of it at the Louvre. I gawked at the Mona Lisa, other Da Vincis, Michelangelos, Donatellos, Venus De Milo (by Television) and a wonderful statue of a lion taking a big bite out of someone’s ass. The police turned up and one point which was quite exciting. Maybe Tom Hanks killed someone else.

Me, Michelangelo's Dying Slave
Check out that masterpiece of a body

Spent the afternoon in Monmartre (god, this is turning into a “I did this, then I did this, then I wrote on my laptop, then I posted on my blog”…) and found Amelie’s café with hours to spare before catching my flight to Copenhagen, where I am now.

You don’t need me to sell Paris to you, it’s great. Come. It’s like that pretty girl that you have to talk to for ages until she finally, hours later, warms up and smiles at one of your stupid jokes and you may actually be in with a chance, but probably not.

Here’s a tip. If you’re alone at a tourist hot spot and need a photo, ask a Japanese person to take it. The photography skills that country pumps out is amazing. They’ll tell you where and how to stand and compose a shot of perfect focus and colour.

That’s enough of Paris so far. Can’t wait to get back on Thursday.

Danny Yau
14 November 2006

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